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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
The Manchy
By Charles Marie René Leconte de Lisle (1818–1894)
 
From ‘Poèmes Barbares’: Translation of Thomas Walsh

CLOTHED in your filmy muslin gown,
  Every Sunday morning, you
  Would come in your manchy of bamboo
Down the footpaths to the town.
 
The church-bell rang out noisily;        5
  The salt breeze waved the lofty cane;
  The sun shook out a golden rain
On the savannah’s grassy sea.
 
With rings on wrist and ankle flat,
  And yellow kerchief on the crown,        10
  Your two telingas carried down
Your litter of Manila mat.
 
Slim, in tunics white, they sang
  As ’neath the pole of bamboo bent,
  With hands upon their hips, they went        15
Steadily by the long Etang.
 
Past banks where Creoles used to come
  To smoke their ancient pipes; past bands
  Of blacks disporting on the sands
To the sound of the Madagascar drum.        20
 
The tamarind’s breath was on the air;
  Out in the glittering surf the flocks
  Of birds swung through the billow’s shocks
And plunged beneath the foaming blare.
 
While hung—your sandal loosed—the tips        25
  Of one pink foot at the manchy’s side,
  In the shade of the letchi branching wide
With fruit less purple than your lips;
 
While like a flower, a butterfly
  Of blue and scarlet fluttered on        30
  Your skin an instant, and was gone,
Leaving his colors in good-by.
 
We saw between the cambric’s mist
  Your earrings on the pillows lain;
  While your long lashes veiled in vain        35
Your eyes of sombre amethyst.
 
’Twas thus you came, those mornings sweet,
  With grace so gentle, to High Mass,
  Borne slowly down the mountain pass
By your faithful Hindoos’ steady feet.        40
 
But now where our dry sand-bar gleams
  Beneath the dog-grass near the sea,
  You rest with dead ones dear to me,
O charm of my first tender dreams!
 
 
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